Be the Match shaves heads to help save lives

UI+students+have+their+heads+shaved+on+the+T.+Anne+Cleary+Walkway+on+Wednesday%2C+April+4%2C+2018.+Be+the+Match+has+asked+students%2C+faculty%2C+and+alumni+to+shave+their+heads+in+support+of+cancer+patients.+%28Lucas+Xu%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Be the Match shaves heads to help save lives

UI students have their heads shaved on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Be the Match has asked students, faculty, and alumni to shave their heads in support of cancer patients. (Lucas Xu/The Daily Iowan)

UI students have their heads shaved on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Be the Match has asked students, faculty, and alumni to shave their heads in support of cancer patients. (Lucas Xu/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lucas

UI students have their heads shaved on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Be the Match has asked students, faculty, and alumni to shave their heads in support of cancer patients. (Lucas Xu/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lucas

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lucas

UI students have their heads shaved on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Be the Match has asked students, faculty, and alumni to shave their heads in support of cancer patients. (Lucas Xu/The Daily Iowan)

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Students and community members put their hair under the razor on Wednesday to raise awareness for an important cause.

On the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, speakers blasted pop music that almost drained out the sound of electric clippers buzzing heads. People stood up and cheered after their hair was cut, exclaiming how cold their head was and how light everything felt.

The University of Iowa started a chapter of “Be the Match On Campus” and hosted its first “Called to Be Bald” event, in which people had their heads shaved to raise awareness of the importance of becoming bone-marrow donors.

Be the Match President Becca Houchins said the members got the idea from the Iowa State University branch of Be the Match, and they wanted to try it this year.

“Called to Be Bald” was originally scheduled for the fall semester, but Be the Match member Matt DeBlaey said they pushed it back to April so people had more time to raise money. In order to participate, students had to first raise $100, and faculty and other community members had to raise $500.

They raised $5,000 by the time the event started, Houchins said.

“This has been a long time in the works,” she said. “We knew we wanted it to be a big fundraising opportunity, and the money is going to go to patients in need.”

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Houchins said the money will go to the national Be the Match organization, which will then give it to families to cover costs of their treatment.

DeBlaey, a second-year graduate student in his last semester at the university, raised and donated $2,000; he said he used GoFundMe and a fundraising platform provided by Be the Match. He said he had grown his hair out for more that a year in preparation for the event, and it was longer than it had ever been before it was shaved.

“To be able to shave it off in support of blood-cancer patients feels great,” he said. “I’ve been involved with Be the Match for the past three years, and every day has been so special just because I’ve been able to help out in some way.”

Sports Clips Haircuts of Coralville and La’ James International College Salon helped cut the participants’ hair. Mirhiam Garcia, one of the stylists from Sports Clips, said they cut around seven people’s hair during their shift, and it felt good to be a part of a good cause.

“It’s a good purpose, to help people and save lives, and we wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

Be the Match’s goal is larger than just shaving heads and raising money, Houchins said. It also tries to educate people and get them to register with the Be the Match Registry, which matches potential donors with those who need help.

Houchins said college students are typically the healthiest and best donors for bone marrow, and a large number of people in need don’t have a match in their family, so they have to look elsewhere for a transplant. The more students who swab their cheeks for the registry, the higher chance of saving someone’s life.

“For [some patients], this is their only chance for survival, there is no cure other than this lifesaving marrow transplant,” she said.

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